On January 1, 2006, following a New England Patriots touchdown against the Miami Dolphins, Doug Flutie enters the game for what initially appears to be a two-point conversion play. After getting his teammates set in a “very strange formation,” Flutie backs up well beyond the normal shotgun position, to the 13-yard line, catches the snap, takes a couple steps forward, drops the ball off the ground and quickly kicks it through the uprights. His teammates immediately mob him after the kick—the first successful drop kick since 1941.
"It was fun," Flutie said of the throwback kick.
The drop kick was commonly used in the game when a football’s shape was much more rounded. After the shape of the ball was changed in 1934, it largely disappeared from the sport. However, the drop kick remained as an allowable kicking attempt after a touchdown in the NFL’s rulebook under Rule 3, Section 8 as defined as “a kick by a kicker who drops the ball and kicks it as, or immediately after, it touches the ground."
The Patriots would go on to lose the meaningless Week 17 game, 28-26, but the story afterward was all about the 43-year-old Flutie’s drop kick. The last successful drop kick before Flutie's was converted two weeks after Pearl Harbor, on December 21, 1941, by Ray “Scooter” McLean.
After the game, Patriots coach and avid football historian Bill Belichick said, “I think Doug deserves it … He's got a skill and we got a chance to let him use it, and I am happy for him. First time since '41. It might be 60 years again, too." Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri joked that "Flutie might have been there the last time it happened.”
Said Miami coach Nick Saban: "I was kind of pleased to know somebody can still drop kick. When I was a kid we all practiced that. Flutie showed his age on that one."
Flutie’s drop kick, apparently spawned during a conversation between ESPN’s Chris Berman and Belichick, was the final play of his storied football career. He won the 1984 Heisman Trophy as a star quarterback at Boston College, played in the shortlived U.S. Football League (1985), joined the NFL (1986-89), rediscovered his game in the Canadian Football League (1990-97) and returned to the NFL to finish his career (1998-2005).